Franck Avitabile: Right Time

French pianist Franck Avitabile is inspired, if not influenced, by his late mentor, Michel Petrucciani, on his new release, Right Time (Dreyfus Jazz FDM 36608-2; 57:44). The romanticism is evident on the ballad “Song for Evan” and in the dark, brooding intro to Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way.” Avitabile displays his melodic side on the waltz “Miss Laurence,” and his rhythmic drive on the harmonically sophisticated “Facin’ Up.” Fortunately, he also approaches standard repertoire in refreshingly unexpected ways: starting “Cherokee” as a ballad; playing “Con Alma” in 6/8. Avitabile gets a big assist from bassist Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen, who nearly steals the show with his prodigious technique and imagination. Orsted-Pedersen also works hand in glove with drummer Roberto Gatto on the stop-time rhythm of the title track, and bassist Louis Petrucciani sits in for two numbers, including the grooving “Blues From the Stars.”